New Zealand Rugby congratulates Dame Farah Palmer for New Year Honour

New Zealand Rugby Board Deputy Chair Farah Palmer has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to sport, particularly rugby, in the New Year 2023 Honours list announced today.            

Dame Farah (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato), a three-time Rugby World Cup winning captain of the Black Ferns, has continued to contribute to rugby throughout her post-playing career including holding numerous governance roles since retiring in 2006.

As a player Dame Farah emerged from Otago University and club rugby to the Black Ferns where she played 35 Tests including 30 as captain, leading the team to successive Rugby World Cup titles in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

Her post career has been littered with achievements academically, as a senior lecturer and professor at Massey University, in governance roles at provincial and national level including with Manawatū, as Chair of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, and on the NZR Board. Dame Farah paved the way for women in rugby as the first female member of the NZR Board in 2016, and her research, advocacy and influence has shaped pathways for Māori in leadership and high-performance sport. In 2007 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the New Year Honours for services to women’s rugby and sport.

NZR Chair Stewart Mitchell congratulated Dame Farah on behalf of the Board and the wider organisation.

“We are fortunate to have individuals like Dame Farah on our Board, in our organisation and involved in our sport over a long period of time. Her acknowledgement today is a source of pride for everyone involved in rugby and I would like to personally congratulate Dame Farah and her whānau for this deserved honour. Her contribution around the Board table and beyond has been substantial and impactful."

NZR CEO Mark Robinson added:

“Dame Farah’s contribution to rugby has been significant and it is fitting she has been acknowledged with a New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to sport, particularly rugby. She has been an inspirational figure in rugby both on and off the field, but in particular she has been an influential leader in the promotion and advocacy of both Māori and women in rugby. Her work has richly enhanced our sport and has deservedly been acknowledged in this year’s New Year Honours.”

New Zealand Māori Rugby Board Deputy Chair Doug Jones said:

“He toa rangatahi, he toa rangatira - a young leader becomes a rangatira (chief). This quote from the late Whetu Tipiwai and the Māori All Blacks haka seems fitting for Dame Farah’s recognition. The New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, on behalf of all the Māori rugby whānau are proud and humbled that she has been recognised for her outstanding work in rugby and Te Ao Māori generally. We thank her and her whānau for the time, effort and leadership she has given to us all.”

BIO: Professor Farah Rangikoepa Palmer, ONZM

Professor Palmer was Professional Development Manager for the Manawatū Rugby Union, an independent member of the Māori Rugby Board, member of the Women's Advisory Committee of the International Rugby Board, and research consultant for New Zealand Rugby. She became the first woman on the New Zealand Rugby Board in 2016 and was elected Deputy Chairperson in 2021. She currently chairs the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board and is President of the New Zealand Rugby Museum. In 2022, she was appointed as Pou Ākonga Executive Director - Māori Student Success at Massey University and previously was Associate Dean Māori for Massey Business School from 2018. Her research and service focusses on the intersection of Māori and gender identities in high performance sport, sport for development, organisational and leadership contexts. She was a member of Te Manahua New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme Committee from 2015 to 2020. She was a member of the Ministerial Taskforce reviewing Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014 and was a founding Trustee for Manukura, an education programme with a Te Ao Māori approach to excellence in sport, culture and education. She has held several mentoring and patron roles with education and public sector organisations. Professor Palmer is a member of the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa Board.


  1. World Rugby Awards, Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service, 2022
  2. Kawenata Awards, Te Rangituataka Supreme Ward, 2021
  3. Māori Sports Hall of Fame inductee, 2019
  4. Women of Influence, Board and Management Award, 2018
  5. World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee, 2014
  6. Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, New Year 2007
  7. New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM), New Year 2023